Midwifery is considered one of the most ancient medical professions. It represents care for women before, during and after the labour, and the delivery of a child. Kimberley born nurse Kgomotso Olifant is so passionate about the ancient nursing practice that she moved to Saudi Arabia on a mission to learn and explore more about the profession of midwifery.
“I fell in love with midwifery, and I want to know more about it,” she tells Health For Mzansi.
Olifant (28) moved to Saudi Arabia just one month ago. “I don’t regret the course of my journey; it will all pay off one day and there won’t be a need to go up and down for my career.”
Nursing had been a dream she never even realised she had. “I think I did imagine myself as a nurse, but when I look at my history with school, I was more into economies and tech related subjects. So, when I was studying, I didn’t pay much attention to the idea of becoming a nurse, I just enjoyed excelling in those subjects,” she says.
She attained her nursing qualification at the Free State School of Nursing in 2019 and practised in Sasolburg before her trek across the world.
She credits her passion and go-getter attitude to her late grandmother, Katie. “I was raised in a home filled with love, life, support and a lot of discipline. That home made me the person I am proud to be today,” she says.
The miracle of new life
Health For Mzansi chats with Olifant about her journey so far and her plans for the future.
Sidima Mfeku: Tell us about some of those first moments when you started practicing midwifery. What do you remember about your patients at the time?
I did my diploma in nursing at the Free State School of Nursing, followed with advanced midwifery and neonatology at the University of the Free State, and am now doing public health at the University of Pretoria.
Seeing the strength of a woman, seeing the miracle of new life coming to earth and seeing the midwife conducting the birth while empowering the woman – having the skills to catch the baby and being able to resuscitate the baby was what amazed me the most. It will forever be entrenched in my mind because it felt good in a very weird way. As of now, I always look forward to the beginning of my day to do what I love the most.
What was working in the South African health sector like, compared to that of Saudi Arabia?
Moving to Saudi has opened my mind about the differences between the two countries. It gave me a clear view of what the South African government is like where resources and service delivery are concerned.
I love South Africa and believe that comparing it to Saudi is not fair. We are not poor as a country, but we are not in the same level as Saudi. We lack resources and I think even though the service might be poor, things are done to the benefit of the patients. However, like any other financially stable state, Saudi does not care much about expenses. Here the most important thing is the life of the patient and everything else follows. Whereas in our country most things are not implemented due to money.
What do you think are some of the challenges that patients in midwifery face?
Having access to healthcare as a pregnant woman is one of the biggest challenges that SA women face. In some parts of our country women must wait for a certain period before they can be seen by a healthcare professional. Sometimes there are mobile clinic services, but the healthcare workers often attend to medical issues and not really pregnancy related issues.
The outcome of women who are not seen or who do not book for midwifery services turn out to be of poor quality. They themselves do not have information on what signs to look out for to be able to recognise and urgently seek for help.
What are some of the challenges that health workers in general face in the South African health system?
As nurses in South Africa we are really struggling due to systems and lack of resources. When the hospitals and clinics don’t have facilities that help the patients, then there is nothing we can do to help them. Saudi is advanced where systems are concerned, assistance for patients is easily carried out.
What are your goals for the future?
Even though I am based in Saudi, I still hope to be involved in midwifery projects in South Africa to strengthen midwifery and our association. Currently in Saudi, I am paving the way to one day work with the International Confederation of Midwives. I would one day like to work as a midwifery lecturer sharing knowledge, skill and competencies with young and fellow midwives.